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The sustainable development concept implies to recycle more and more and to adapt products for this purpose. The composites industry has specialists in this field. Here are two of them.
(Published on December 2007 – JEC Magazine #37)
JEC Composites Magazine: What are your functions?
Isabelle TALLARON: I’m in charge of developing, monitoring and expanding recycling operations at Inoplast (a subsidiary of Plastic Omnium) and for ECRC (European Composite Recycling Services Company), a company which groups together players of composites in Europe. I also monitor compliance with REACH regulations.
JCM: What is the framework for your operations?
I. T.: Inoplast designs and manufactures composite and plastic parts for cars and trucks. European directives already stipulate an 85% recycling rate for vehicles since 2006 and a 95% rate by 2015.
JCM: Which products do you recycle?
I. T.: We’ve elaborated a process to grind glass/polyester thermoset composites. We develop two different lines of finished products, which are micronized powders (particle size from 50 to 300 Ìm), and fibres with different lengths depending on application (1 to 15 mm). The powder is intended for reincorporation into thermoset compounds like SMC and BMC for the automotive industry, the fibres for reinforcing thermoplastics and for concrete formulation.
JCM: Which other sectors have good prospects?
I. T.: Our objective is to set up with the help of the ECRC and with cooperation among composites manufacturers recycling streams of production waste and parts which have reached the end of life. Cement manufacturing is another under development. In the end, the cement manufacturer recovers the glass and the carbonate in the cement, that which represents about 70% of our material. Even though this stream is a costly one, we’d like to develop it in order to comply with zero landfill objectives.
JEC Composites Magazine: What does your job consist in?
Frédéric Viot: I’m in charge of assessing and minimizing the impact of our products throughout their life cycle. For example, we have developed new solutions to minimize the weight of body parts and improve the aerodynamics of vehicles, thereby minimizing CO2 emissions. I am also in charge along with Isabelle for recycling and REACH compliance.
JCM: Can you trace your career for us?
F. V.: After receiving a PhD in Chemistry, I was a research scientist in a large pharmaceutical laboratory. Then I signed on with Peguform Manducher. Ten years after that, I joined Plastic Omnium.
JCM: Are there many people in your line of work?
F. V.: No, but the situation is changing for the better. To take one example, a “grande école” like ENSAM in Chambéry trains 15- 20 students in eco-design each year, although not all of them find jobs to fit their training.
JCM: Can you give us a few recycling examples?
F. V.: Damaged bumpers are recovered, ground up, regranulated and reutilized for exterior auto parts. We have also designed radiator and lamp brackets in glass/PP composite with recycled matrix. Sorting polymer blends is not easy. Ground material often contains different polymer grades. You can’t just depend on grinding to obtain good quality. We have developed key expertise in compatibilizers through our subsidiary Plastic Recycling, which specializes in recycling plastics. Plastic Omnium is the only European equipment manufacturer to have a subsidiary that is a recycling specialist. For parts that require higher modulus, the recycled materials are used in smaller proportions.
JCM: Does Plastic Omnium have other environmental objectives?
F. V.: Plastic Omnium wants to innovate for sustainable development. Our subsidiary Plastic Omnium Environment is the world’s leading service provider and equipment manufacturer in household and industrial waste management, offering solutions for minimizing waste and increasing the volumes recycled. Plastic Omnium takes action in various ways to protect the environment.